'Deploying army to gang-ridden areas not a permanent solution'

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says South Africa has been gripped by an increase in extremely violent crime, leaving communities unsafe.

FILE: Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has welcomed a request to deploy the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in the country’s crime hotspots but says this alone will not solve the issue.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says South Africa has been gripped by an increase in extremely violent crime, leaving communities unsafe.

He has now asked the SANDF to assist with fighting crime in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Zille's office says deploying the SANDF would provide short-term levels of stability in gang-ridden areas.

However, this would not be a permanent solution.

Spokesperson Michael Mpofu said: “This deployment in itself wouldn’t be a permanent measure because ultimately policing will still remain in the South African Police Services (SAPS) domain and there are things that the SAPS can do to ensure that violent crime comes down in high-risk areas."

In May last year, crime-fighting initiative Operation Fiela saw soldiers assisting the SAPS with fighting crime.

Manenberg Safety Forum chairperson, Roegshanda Pascoe, says that process only brought short-lived relief.

“This can’t be another fruitless exercise where the army is being zoomed in, quickly zoomed out.”

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s office has confirmed she's received the request from the Police Ministry.